Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (Be Safe)

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is a set of design principles used to reduce the incidence and fear of crime by manipulating the built environment to create a safer space.

Whether residential units, corporate structures, community settings, or commercial places like shopping malls, well-planned buildings almost always rely on the CPTED theory to provide a safe environment for residents, employees, or customers.

For business owners looking for ways to promote business security, CPTED lies at the very heart of the matter. It helps you secure the premises and prevents theft and other similar fraudulent activities that can otherwise cause significant damage to your business.

According to a study conducted by the Injury Prevention Research Center at the University of California, multistoried buildings experience a 30% to 84% drop in robberies when upgraded according to the principles of CPTED.

Therefore, learning more about the CPTED technique is essential so you can apply it effectively to secure your business.

In this guide, we will cover the following:

  • What is CPTED?
  • Why is CPTED important?
  • What are the different CPTED principles?
  • What is the Three-D approach as it relates to CPTED?
What is CPTED

What Does CPTED Mean, and Why Is It Important?

As mentioned earlier, CPTED is short for Crime Prevention Through Environment Design. It is an architectural concept because buildings can also be structured to prevent crime when they can withstand harsh weather and natural disasters.

It first originated in America in the early ‘60s when a criminologist, C. Ray Jeffery, introduced the concept of ‘defensible spaces.’ He explained how neglected zones, poor building maintenance, and certain design aspects could make a particular place more susceptible to robbery and other crimes.

For business security or addressing crime concerns in any other place, CPTED is a unique yet highly effective technique.

Rather than introducing visually unappealing safety measures such as surveillance cameras, security guards, and hard barriers (locks, fences, security gates.), CPTED focuses on creating a visually pleasing space that encourages positive human behavior.

CPTED is meant primarily to design new buildings constructed from scratch. However, it can also make existing buildings more secure by upgrading them according to a particular set of rules.

CPTED plays a major role in safety and security because it is a proactive step for fighting theft, regardless of the scale at which its carried out. When applying CPTED principles, you expect the thought process of a potential offender. This enables you to build an environment that resists follow-through. CPTED also boosts the sense of security amongst your employees and can also be an effective countermeasure for employee theft.

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Using CPTED for business security

How Many-Core Techniques Does Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) Have?

CPTED comprises four basic principles. These are:

  • Natural surveillance
  • Natural access control
  • Territorial reinforcement
  • Maintenance and management

So, what is the underlying philosophy of these four principles, and how do they reduce the likelihood of crime anywhere?

The next section will help you find out.

The following are brief descriptions of what each of these CPTED principles entails.

1. Natural Surveillance

Natural surveillance techniques focus on making the place unfavorable for illegal activities. They make it difficult for the potential offender to hide during the process and make an escape after that. If a person feels as if they are being watched from different angles at all times, they are less likely to commit a crime.

Natural surveillance techniques minimize, if not eliminate, the hiding places of the criminal. You can increase natural surveillance on your premises by taking the following measures:

  • Ensure all areas are well lit
  • Keep entry and exit ways free of objects that block the direct line of sight.
  • Keep hedges and trees well-trimmed.
  • Avoid plants near windows and corners as they create a blind spot

Video surveillance must complement natural surveillance. So, besides these steps, don’t forget that installing a high-quality business security system is a must.

2. Natural Access Control

This technique will demotivate an offender from carrying out nefarious plans. It stops them from thinking they are in control despite being outsiders in your facility.

You can deny them this sense of control by directing the flow of both vehicles and visitors in a way that makes it more manageable and visible. Use locks, fences, shrubs, and other similar elements to keep people out of a place unless they have a valid reason for being there.

3. Territorial Reinforcement

Territorial reinforcement establishes a clear distinction between your business premises and the surrounding areas.

A clear distinction between public and private property serves two main purposes. First, it gives your employees a sense of belonging. When they take ownership of the place, they will be more vigilant of people who don’t belong there. Second, territorial reinforcement makes it difficult for intruders to blend in easily without being noticed.

To reinforce your ownership of the place, you can display signage on all entrances and install a badging system for guests and temporary visitors.

4. Maintenance and Management

A poorly managed business property is a welcome place for criminal activities. The more neglected an area is, the more likely it is to become a target for theft and robberies.

This idea is illustrated better in the Broken Window Theory, which states that a broken window will entice a criminal to break another. I.e., any visible signs of vandalism or mismanagement in a building make the place more inviting for more serious crimes.

Therefore, don’t put off repairs and carry out periodic maintenance checks. If something gets damaged, fix it immediately to show that you are always mindful of your property.

CPTED and the Three-D Approach

The three D approach

We can implement the four principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design through the ‘three-D approach.’

The three-D approach to CPTED is analogous to three-dimensional spaces in the real world. I.e., all buildings must be analyzed according to their designation, definition, and design.

When testing your business premises from a security point of view, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

1. Designation

  • What is the main purpose of the place?
  • Was it originally built for the same purpose?
  • If not, how can you change it to maximize functionality and security?

2. Definition

  • Is the place well-defined, or does it merge with its surroundings instead?
  • If the boundaries set it apart from the public property, is it clear who the place belongs to?
  • Are the administrative aspects covered in the legal policy?

3. Design

  • Does the design and layout of the place match its intended use?
  • Does the physical layout temper the security measures you have put in place?
  • If the answer to the above two questions is no, which of the four principles of CPTED do you need to work on the most?

End Note

The broad nature and versatility of the CPTED principles make it suitable for securing a wide range of places, including large corporate buildings and standalone units. It can be adapted to match your business’s needs and preferences and can be implemented easily without interfering with the overall functionality of the place.

It can also help you develop strategic partnerships with local government and community members.

If you want to secure your business from external threats and make it safer for employees and customers, take the steps for crime prevention through environmental design.

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